SPRING GROVE — Spring Grove boys’ basketball coach James Brooks only waited about 80 seconds on Monday night against Greencastle-Antrim before calling a timeout.
At the time, the Rockets only trailed 5-0, but the play was poor. When he met his five starters on the floor about 15 feet onto the court, he refused to let them sit on the bench. This was a meeting between him and them.
It was a needed wake-up call for Spring Grove, which looked like it was sleep-walking through the early moments of the game. When the Rockets did finally come to their senses about midway through the second quarter, everything clicked. After falling behind 9-0, Spring Grove grabbed the lead for good with about two minutes to play in the first half and had little resistance after that en route to its 67-62 win to close out the regular season.
“Sometimes when you have extra activities going on, people don’t come in focused on what they need to do,” Brooks said. “It’s Senior Night, there’s some emotions going on, guys are amped up and we just didn’t complete things that we were supposed to do and some of the things that we talked about we couldn’t let them do.”
It was good way for The Rockets (17-5) to head into the postseason, facing a Greencastle squad that entered the night just two spots below them in the District 3 5-A power ratings.
After overcoming some sloppy play that produced five turnovers in the first seven possessions, Spring Grove got another elite performance by Eli Brooks and then solid contributions from other role players to build a five-point lead by halftime.
“It’s tough to play with distractions like this,” Eli Brooks said. “But, it was good that we did it now because we’re just going to have a lot more distractions throughout the rest of the season coming up with counties and districts and all the big crowds we’re going to play with. So it was a good test.”
With its footing firmly underneath it to start the second half, Spring Grove quickly built a lead up to 10 points. The Blue Devils (15-7) occasionally mounted mini runs to get things to within four or five points, but every Greencastle run was matched by a Rockets surge.
Spring Grove held a six-point lead going into the final quarter and then rode the hot hands of Brooks and Austin Panter to hold off any potential Blue Devils’ charge in the fourth. The duo combined for 15 points on perfect 7 for 7 shooting.
Brooks had another monster game, scoring 32 points and adding a career-high 23 rebounds, but it was Panter’s sharp shooting that helped Brooks shoulder some of the load. Panter finished with 18 points on 8 of 14 shooting, including knocking down two 3-pointers.
“I was just feeling confident,” Panter said. “My shot was feeling good in warm-ups and when I was shooting, as soon as it left my hands, I knew it was going in.”
On the opposite end, the Rockets made things difficult for Greencastle with strong defense, holding the potent offense of the Mid-Penn Conference Colonial Division champion in check for much of the night.
“They play hard and are well-disciplined,” James Brooks said of the Blue Devils. “They usually shoot the ball better, but hopefully that was our defense that had an impact on them.”
Next up for the Rockets is the York-Adams League playoffs beginning on Saturday. Spring Grove is the reigning champion and feels like it's playing some of its best basketball.
“For the most part we’re healthy, we still love each other and that’s always a good thing, and guys aren’t ready for the season to be over,” James Brooks said. “Those are three good factors to have going into the postseason.”
South Western 83, Dover 77 (OT): At Dover, Chase Topper scored 25 points to lead South Western over the York-Adams Division II champion, and was joined in double digits by Job Brown (16), Dhane Schmelyun (14) and Jake Wells (11). Elijah Sutton was Dover’s leader with 25 points, to go along with Brady Bowman’s 13 and Victor Dorm’s 11. South Western improved to 4-18. Dover fell to 14-8.
Linden Hall 52, Christian School of York 40: At CSY, the Crusaders led at the half, but were unable to hold on. Bailey Stauffer led the Crusaders with 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Also for CSY, Kendis Butler knocked in 12 points, while Kathryn Larson scored 11. It was a meeting of two of the top teams in District 1-A girls' basketball. Linden Hall is 18-1, while CSY is now 17-4.
Kennard-Dale 52, Manheim Central 23: At Fawn Grove, Megan Halczuk led the Rams to the non-league victory by scoring 18 points, including a 12-for-19 night from the charity stripe. Teammate Lexie Kopko knocked in 10 points.
Dover 51, South Western 41: At Hanover, Rajah Fink led the Eagles to the victory with 25 points. Teammate Alaina Reaver knocked in 13, including three from behind the arc. Dover improved to 17-5.
Greencastle 51, Spring Grove 32: At Greencastle, the Rockets dropped the non-league battle despite 12 points from Brooklyn Naylor.
Susquehannock 5, Shamrocks 4: At Twin Ponds West, Susquehannock won their Central Penn Interscholastic Hockey League Tier 3 playoff opener. Third-seeded Susquehannock led 5-2 early in the third period and then held on against the second-seeded Shamrocks. Andrew Helmer had a hat trick for the winners, while Ian Smith and Elijah Emenheiser also scored. Smith also had an assist, while Kaden Glatfelter had two assists. Hayden Folfas got the win in goal, making 28 saves. Susquehannock advances to the second round of the playoffs on Wednesday, Feb. 15, against the winner of the MSMCC-Penn Manor game, which is set for Wednesday, Feb. 8. MSMCC is the top seed, while Penn Manor is seeded fourth.
Wyalusing Valley 34, Bermudian Springs 31: At York Springs, the Eagles received pins from Landon West (113), Dylan Griffie (126), Trenton Harder (138) and Korey Smith (106), but it wasn't enough to win the PIAA Class 2-A first-round state wrestling battle. The District 3 2-A runner-up Eagles finished 21-3. Wyalusing Valley is the District 4 2-A third-place team.
Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com.